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Witch-hunting’ claims couple, toll touches 8

Witch-hunting’ claims couple, toll touches 8
May 9, 2011, 12.08am IST

GUWAHATI: Killings in the name of witch-hunting showed no signs of abating in the state. The latest victims of this superstitious practice were an elderly married couple, who were killed by locals on Saturday night at Hadunguri village in the Majbat area in Assam’s Udalguri district on charges of practising witchcraft. With this, “witch-hunting” toll has gone up to eight since last month.

On Saturday, villagers killed 65-year-old Jogen Boro and wife Akhri, suspecting that the couple was spreading diseases in the hamlet. “Fourteen people were arrested on charges of involvement in killing the elderly couple,” Udalguri superintendent of police Debojit Deuri said.

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Additional superintendent of police Satyajit Nath said the villagers who were behind the killings showed no sign of repentance for the “cold blooded murders”. On the contrary, they put forward their argument that the two killed had been spreading disease through their powers of wizardry.

“The 14 persons we arrested confessed their involvement in the killings. But they showed no repentance at all. Instead, they kept arguing that they killed the husband-wife duo because the latter was spreading diseases through their black magic,” Additional superintendent of police Satyajit Nath.

Police, however, conceded that even though so many people were arrested in connection with the killings, it would be the least deterrent for others because witch-hunting has become more of a social menace than a mere law-and-order problem. Last month, six persons, of whom five were women, were murdered by their fellow villagers in the name of witch-hunting in Kokrajhar district. All the killings in the last few months were confined to districts under the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

Incidentally, most of the witch-huntings took place in villages that are located either near inter-state boundaries or international borders. Hadunguri, where the married couple was killed on Saturday, is located near Arunachal Pradesh, while the killings in Kokrajhar district last month took place in villages near the international border with Bhutan.

Police said most of the witch-hunting took place in border areas primarily because of lack of access to health facilities. “The villages in border areas are remote and do not have proper health facilities. When the villagers are afflicted by diseases, they either turn to quacks or resort to witch-hunting,” a police official said.

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